Date: August 12, 2017
History of the Inverness Fair
The first summer Inverness Fair may have been in 1946, when Del Bener hosted a “fair” at North Dream Farm road before he built his home there. In a later interview, Mr. Bener remarked that 1600 (!) attended, and that Mrs. Lorene Johnson cooked goulash stew for the crowd. Michael Mery recently recalled attending the fair as a boy and taking home a puppy.
The Jack Mason archives have a few photos of what must have been a community summer fair in 1965 on the grounds of the Inverness School. Fifteen years later, the Pacific Sun reported on a summer fair at St. Columba Church in Inverness, with participation by the Inverness Garden Club. It was so successful, all agreed to repeat the fair the next year with events and booths. It’s not clear from the archives that that actually happened.
It was not until 1984 that the Inverness Association sponsored a summer fair on the Green next to the Inverness Firehouse. The idea and impetus for the fair had been raised a year or two earlier by C. Easton Rothwell. Two years later, a community committee persuaded the Inverness Association to help by paying for porta potties and insurance and worked out a format for splitting the profits: A portion of the net received by participating organizations would go to the Inverness Association; the remainder would support the missions of these organizations. This share of profits continues to this day. The Fair’s activities were not much different from what we have today; perhaps more elaborate.
The 1984 Inverness Fair began with a dance at the Inverness Yacht Club on Friday night with Michael McQuilkins dance band. On Saturday morning, the Boy Scouts served a pancake breakfast serenaded by a quartet of local ladies playing Mozart. Other events included a drawing for a Garden Club quilt; sale of Garden Club homemade “sugar and spice” items; Inverness Association hotdogs; a marionette show provided by St. Columba’s, which also sold desserts and coffee; a 1 p.m. concert of musicians playing recorders at Pocket Park (now Plant Park); Jazz and the Sugar Foot Stompers on the green; sale of paperback books, rummage and popcorn, a petting zoo (baby goats, rabbits and such), finally ending with Country and Western music: the West Marin Squares dancing in front of the Firehouse.
Similar fairs were held the next two years. In 1985, the fair ended with a performance of what sounds like a melodrama, “Twist of Fate”, on the Village Green. Oysters and wine were served in Pocket Park, and local artists displayed and sold their work on Alden Lane along with other artists and local booths. Members of the Inverness Garden Club sold fresh garden produce, jams, jellies and potted plants. Judge Kroninger’s 7 piece Dixieland Band played for the Friday night dance.
Variations on these themes have continued, though it appears that local enthusiasm and participation have somewhat abated. This past summer (2014), The pancake breakfast, tostada lunch, hotdogs and beer, ice cream (West Marin Senior Services) and oysters were sold along with a the Inverness Garden club’s large sale of native and locally successful plants. Only one musical group performed, and the Friday night dance is no longer a part of the festivities. It still is a fine gathering of locals and fun for everyone. The Fair also serves as an important source of financial assistance to local organizations